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SALAMANCA -- Snow enthusiasts have had a great start for skiing and snowboarding, and now chances also look solid for another group of cold-weather lovers: ice skaters.

If the weather cooperates, the Bill Flanigan Ice Pond in Salamanca will open for the first time in three years.

Officials blamed poor weather conditions for the facility’s lack of operation in previous years.

Patrick Reed, superintendent of public works, said that could change soon, if the cold streak continues in the Southern Tier.

“When we were falling on hard times in the city, the Seneca Nation of Indians gave it a shot to open the pond,” Reed said. “They just didn’t have the weather cooperating with them to do it.

“They did everything they could.”

Winters for the last three years in the Southern Tier have been a bit odd, Reed said, with too much warmth to sustain the temperatures and not enough precipitation to produce a good ice surface.

At present, the pond has between 2 and 2 ½ inches of ice being maintained by hand, Reed said. The plan is to have a thick enough base to be able to open in a week to two.

Years ago, the pond was used as a natural ice reservoir and blocks of ice were cut from it for use in home ice boxes. That was before electric refrigeration. Skating on the pond is believed to have started in the 1930s. During its heyday, the pond was the place to be for speed-skating races and large groups of skaters.

Bill Flanigan, for whom the pond is named, worked at the facility for years, even teaching people how to skate.

The pond is home to a warming hut where refreshments will be available.

The hut also houses the skates for use on the pond.

The skates will be given out free of charge for those wanting to come down and glide across a remnant of the region’s history, Reed said.

Admission to the facility is free.

“Come on down and skate and then leave when you have had enough,” Reed said.

Reed said the pond could open before Christmas, likely from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. Lights and sound equipment will add to the experience for skaters.